Republicans lose

by Steve, November 8th, 2006

politicsIt sure is tempting to gloat this morning about a Democratic victory at the polls. I haven’t been registered as a Democrat since ’84, and I’ve been very critical of the party’s rightward drift in the neoliberal era. Sure, I’m happy that maybe we’ll get some opposition in Congress.

But look more closely, and you’ll see not so much a Democratic victory as a Republican defeat. The Democrats are united only in opposition to Bush. On social, foreign and economic policy, they are perhaps more divided than ever. It is worth celebrating the Republican defeat, but don’t get too excited about Democratic victory. Their grip on Congress hinges on holding seats in traditional Republican districts, and on not doing anything to piss off the red staters therein. So expect a very moderate, tentative Congress, with an eye on holding on to the red states for the ’08 presidential elections. Don’t forget, Bush war cheerleader Joe Lieberman won against a war critic. This was not a tidal wave, this was a little slap on the wrist for Bush and his arrogance. It might signal an end to Rovian red meat politics, or it might be a brief interlude in the GOP master plan for total control.

It will be nice to see some oversight, though, if only for two years.

Here in Oregon, our do-nothing Dem governor, Ted Kulongoski, was handily reelected, our senate has stayed Democratic, and it looks like the house is swinging Democratic, too. Wow. It’s going to take a while for that to sink in. Now let’s see if they’ll address the 800 pound gorilla in the room: revenue. Our tax base was severely eroded by two property tax limitation ballot measures in the 90s, and nobody’s had the political will to even talk about it since. Our schools have had to grovel for band-aid funding every couple of years (a local bond measure passed yesterday after our 3 year local income tax expired), and my daughter’s first and second grade classes have both had close to 30 students. Music, Art and PE are luxuries at the discretion of principals (we’re lucky to have a grant-funded half-time music teacher and a full-time PE teacher — but no art). Will the fully in-control Dems address this? They’re making noise about reducing class size, but I have yet to hear anything about revenue.

Speaking of Dems moving to the center, I watched some of ABC’s election coverage last night with Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. The conversations turned to implications for ’08, and Stephanopoulos held forth with the common DLC line that “Democrats win when they run from the Center”. He noted Carter, Clinton…. And his voice trailed off. He neglected to mention Gore and Kerry for some reason. So I guess you could just as easily say they lose when they run from the center. Anyway, bottom line, it was a nice little romp for the Dems, handed to them on a platter by an inept, arrogant George W. Bush and a bumbling, ethically challenged Republican Congress. But it’s looking ugly for ’08. Left to their own devices, without any favors from the other side, I expect the Dems to blow it.